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How Inflation Trends Are Impacting Restaurants

And how you can stay profitable with RASI’s smart, agile, automated software applications

Summer Lunch - Media from WiX
Summer Lunch - Media from WiX

Even in a “normal” business environment, running a restaurant and staying profitable is a tough task. Throw in skyrocketing inflation, and the margin for error is smaller than ever. While inflation impacts every business and every industry, restaurants have borne the brunt of the devalued U.S. dollar harder than most other business sectors.



So just how bad is inflation right now? As of mid-October 2022, inflation in the U.S. remains as stingy and persistent as ever at 8.2%, which is the same level at this time in 2021.

For restaurant owners, financial personnel, and entrepreneurs, inflation is the ever-present elephant in the room, that profit-eroding problem that just won’t go away.


However, the restaurant accounting experts at RASI have a few pointers for restaurants to help control costs internally. And while our methods don’t positively impact inflation in a broad, wide-ranging way, they can still deliver much-needed cost savings for any restaurant. And let’s be honest…in this economy, every little bit helps!



Before we discuss some automated ways to limit expenses, let’s review some recent inflation trends, and how some restaurants are adjusting to the current business climate.


Recent Trends: Fear, Extra Fees, and…$50 Burgers?

Most businesses can easily navigate acute inflation. Some economic cycles produce sudden, sharp increases in prices, but only for a few weeks or a month. Chronic, relentless inflation – the kind which hangs over the entire restaurant industry at the moment – is a different matter altogether. And it has some eateries taking unprecedented measures to stay profitable.



For example, to help offset inflation, some restaurants – particularly smaller establishments – are resorting to surcharge fees to stay afloat. That’s right; surcharge fees, once regarded as a scourge of common financial transactions like ATM usage, have now crept into day-to-day restaurant business operations.


Since all costs associated with running a restaurant – supply chain, labor, supplies, food, you name it – have increased in price, more than a few restaurants have added surcharge fees for diners and customers. These fees have not-so-distant roots during the 2020 COVID pandemic when some catering services and bars added on surcharge fees for common expenses such as dine-in capability, labor, and even disposables.



To help offset high inflation, RASI recommends implementing surcharges, provided they are fully explained upfront as to the total cost and what the money is used for. Surcharges have grown more common over time, as many restaurants adapt to quickly changing times. Surcharges are certainly preferable to blatant hikes in menu prices. Speaking of which…


Another inflation trend – is menu prices that mirror the costs absorbed by restaurants. In New York City, already notoriously known as one of the priciest places to eat in the U.S., it’s not uncommon for diners to fork over 50 bucks for a single burger. Another sign of the (ultra-expensive) times, near Times Square, no less…a 12-ounce filet mignon at a steakhouse now goes for $115. That’s over 9 dollars – per OUNCE!


Stay In Front of Inflation with RASI’s Back of House Restaurant Tech

You can’t change inflation – but your restaurant can trim costly overhead and save money in other ways. RASI’s accounting software helps automate and optimize restaurant operations management. In short, efficient restaurant operations management takes an analytical approach to reduce waste and increase profit. With soaring inflation, back-of-house (BOH) operations management ensures you’re on top of critical details from proper portioning, streamlined waste management, and smart maintenance techniques.


Here are a few more ways to keep your restaurant thriving during periods of high inflation:

  • Make your menu work for you – and your customers. In other words, don’t just dream up your menu – engineer it! Menu engineering is one of the cornerstones of BOH efficiency, and RASI knows a thing or two about how to engineer your menu the right way – check out our helpful article on the subject!

  • Don’t forget your vendor relationships and partners! Inflation impacts everyone in the restaurant industry, including your suppliers, vendors, and partners. Smart, streamlined vendor management is critical to keep costs low and trust high. RASI’s Partners Hub is the ideal place to save money and increase efficiency across your entire supply chain.

  • Keep tabs on food costs. Since inflation starts at the source of your product – your menu’s food supply – it helps to have a sound strategy in place to control food costs whenever possible. You can improve your food costs management by tracking inventory with smart software applications, and also by learning and perfecting some food cost management fundamentals.


See How RASI Can Help with Inflation Today!

RASI is here for any restaurant business, during every economic turn. In challenging business times, it helps to have our expertise in your corner. Schedule a demo today and see how our software can help control costs, or call our restaurant accounting software experts at (720) 826-9900. Thanks for visiting RASI!


Credits

Matt Vannini – President & CEO of RASI

A fourth-generation restaurateur who is well-versed in the restaurant industry. After successfully running and eventually selling his operations, went on to work for Corporate Red Robin, training on-site GMs on effective restaurant management and operations. Previously worked for Aloha POS as a Program Manager, increasing knowledge of BOH software and how to effectively integrate such systems into everyday operations.


Over to you

The hotel industry is always changing, especially during a time of crisis. Make sure to future-proof your business and continue attracting new guests by investing in these solutions.


About writer

ARE MORCH - Founder and Digital Transformation Coach

Are, is a digital transformation coach helping hotels open their digital front door, reimagine their processes and culture, and transform experiences in a fast-paced world without competing with online travel agencies!

In his free time, Are and his wife transformed abused and abandoned horses providing them a better opportunity to do what they were meant to do.

“To me hospitality and digital transformation are art. It is like a painter that uses a combination of colors to create a picture. And we will all have a unique perspective on how we view the finished product. The key is to bring out the commonalities that tell us that this is an experience we want to share with others.”
 



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